Overnight Milk Bread Cinnamon Rolls
Overnight Milk Bread Cinnamon Rolls

Milk Bread Cinnamon Buns are fluffy, pillowy, and soft. Make them for Christmas morning or any morning!

In this recipe

  • What is Tangzhong?
  • Why an overnight surge?
  • Tricks for filling and cutting
  • How to store cinnamon rolls
  • More breakfast roll recipes

Words like fluffy, pillowy, soft and tender don’t even prepare you for the divine experience of these cinnamon milk buns. Because yes, they are heavenly.

The dough is dreamy and the Japanese tangzhong method of cooking milk and flour together is the secret to its softness. I confess I like it almost more than brioche!

For this recipe, I split it up into two days. Make the dough the first day, let it rest in the fridge overnight, then shape and roll the dough in the morning, let it rise longer and within an hour you’ll be biting into a cinnamon buttered bun.

What is Tangzhong?

The feathery texture of these buns comes from the Japanese technique of mixing a cooked slurry of liquid (milk or water) and flour into the dough, called tangzhong. The technique is used in Hokkaido milk bread but is now used in many baking recipes, including this cinnamon roll recipe and another favorite, Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls.

The technique pregelatinises the starches in the flour, allowing the dough to hold more liquid than typical bread dough. This also leads to a longer shelf life.

Two to three days later, your buns will still be soft, although it’s doubtful they’ve been around long enough to test that theory.

On the first day, mix the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight (up to 12 hours). On the morning of the second day, shape the buns and let the dough rise again before baking.

Overnight rising gives the dough more time to develop flavor. Plus, it takes the workload out of you, so you can fill and bake the buns in the morning and have breakfast about an hour later. The dough is also much easier to work with cold.

Tricks for filling and cutting

Here are a few tips to make rolling, filling, and cutting the buns easier:

  • The dough is so smooth that it does not have to be laboriously rolled. Start by patting it into a rectangle on a floured piece of parchment paper. Finish forming the rectangle by rolling it with a rolling pin.
  • The cinnamon filling resembles a thick frosting that spreads easily on the dough and avoids the messy crumbs of sugar and cinnamon.
  • Shaping your cinnamon rolls is easy – since it’s a piece of parchment, the sheet of dough can be evenly rolled into a cylinder. Simply lift the edges of the paper closest to your body as you roll the dough away from you.
  • Cutting the buns with a knife can be tricky as the pressure of a knife can cause them to lose their shape. Instead of a knife, use dental floss or string to cut the rolls. After marking portions with a paring knife, slide a thin piece of twine or tasteless dental floss under a section. Grasp the ends and pull the cord firmly in opposite directions so that it cuts through the spool. Easy and fun!

How to store cinnamon rolls

The best way to store cinnamon rolls is to place them in a container with a tight-fitting lid after they have cooled completely.

You can also wrap them in aluminum foil or plastic wrap: place a large sheet of foil or plastic wrap on the countertop and pull the edges up and over the buns, try not to break the frosting but also be careful not to break the package is sealed. Packaged as recommended, you can store cinnamon rolls at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (after which time, refrigerated rolls tend to dry out from the cold).

Freeze: You can freeze them frozen or unfrozen wrapped in aluminum foil as above for up to 2 months. If not frozen, store the frosting separately in the freezer and bring to room temperature.

Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet to reheat and cover loosely with foil. Heat in an oven at 300°F for 10 to 20 minutes or until fully warm.

More breakfast roll recipes

  • Best homemade cinnamon rolls
  • Gluten free cinnamon rolls
  • Cinnamon sticky buns
  • Sweet buns with raspberry jam

Overnight milk buns cinnamon rolls

preparation time
30 minutes

cooking time
30 minutes

ascent time
12 hours

total time
13 hrs

12 servings

These are night buns, so you’ll need to mix the dough up one day or night and shape and bake the next morning.


  • For the Tangzhong
  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/3 cup (43 g) bread flour

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • For the dough
  • 2/3 cup cold whole milk

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/3 cup (66 g) granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 cold large eggs

  • 4 cups (480 g) bread flour

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (14 g) instant yeast

  • 1/4 cup powdered milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (for the casserole dish)

  • For the cinnamon filling
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

  • pinch of salt

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

  • For the glaze
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

special equipment

  • blender


  1. Do the Tangzhong:

    In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add flour, water, and milk. Whisk together until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened to a smooth, pudding-like consistency, 4 to 5 minutes.

    Transfer the tangzhong to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

  2. For the dough:

    Add the milk, butter, sugar and salt to the mixing bowl with the tangzhong. Blend on low speed with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the eggs and mix until incorporated.

    In a separate medium bowl, add flour, yeast, milk powder and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. One cup at a time, add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until combined. It will be slightly sticky.

    Remove the paddle, cover the bowl and let sit for 10 minutes before kneading to give the flour time to hydrate (absorb liquid).

  3. Knead the dough:

    Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead the dough on low speed until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Let the dough rise overnight:

    Spread the oil on the bottom and sides of a large, clean bowl. Form the dough into a ball, place in the bowl and turn the dough over so all sides of the dough are oiled.

    Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight (up to 12 hours). The dough has risen in the fridge.

  5. Prepare the cinnamon filling:

    Just before forming the buns the next morning, in a small bowl, mix together the softened butter, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

  6. Roll out the dough into a rectangle:

    Place a 12″ x 16″ piece of parchment paper on your work surface and dust it with flour. Turn the dough out onto the parchment paper and pat into a rectangle.

    Roll out the dough to the same size as the parchment, stretching the corners if necessary. The dough should be about 1 1/2 inches thick.

  7. Prepare the baking pan:

    Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with butter. Place a 12″ x 16″ piece of parchment in the pan, leaving 1 1/2″ overhanging the two long sides.

  8. Fill, roll and cut dough:

    Using an offset spatula, spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a border of about 1 inch around the edge.

    Lay the dough so that the long side is parallel to the edge of the counter. Using the parchment as a guide, roll it away from your body to form a cylinder. Pinch the seam firmly and turn the log so the seam side is facing down.

    Using a paring knife, cut the stem into 12 even pieces that are about 1 1/2 inches wide. Slip a 12-inch strand of tasteless dental floss or thin string under the log.

    Cross the ends and pull tight to cut the stem into 12 slices. Place them in the baking dish cut side up. They should just fit in the pan, barely touching.

  9. Preheat the oven and let the dough rise at room temperature:

    Preheat oven to 350°F.

    Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the dough looks puffy and the buns are touching.

  10. Bake and cool buns:

    Bake the cinnamon rolls for 28 to 32 minutes until browned and a thermometer inserted into the center of the buns reads 190°F to 205°F.

    Transfer them to a rack to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.

  11. Make the icing:

    In the mixing bowl, using the paddle attachment, on medium-high, mix the cream cheese and butter for 1 minute or until very smooth and free of lumps. Slowly pour in the sugar and stir until smooth. Mix in the salt and vanilla. The glaze will be soft and thick, but creamy and still spreadable.

  12. Frost the buns and serve:

    Use the parchment to lift the buns out of the pan. Ice them while still warm and serve them immediately.

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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!